Cranberry Christmas Cake

Welcome to the ultimate guide to making your holiday season even sweeter with our delectable Cranberry Christmas Cake! This festive delight is not only a feast for the eyes but also a guaranteed crowd-pleaser, perfect for any holiday gathering. Whether you’re a seasoned baker or trying your hand at baking for the first time, this guide is designed to ensure your cake comes out perfectly. So, let’s roll up our sleeves, preheat those ovens, and embark on a baking adventure that will fill your home with the irresistible aroma of cranberries and vanilla!

Tools and Preparation

  • Servings: This recipe yields one 9-inch cake, perfect for 8-12 people.
  • Cooking Time: Preparation time is approximately 20 minutes, with a baking time of 1 hour.
  • Tools Needed:
    • 9-inch cake pan
    • Large mixing bowl
    • Electric mixer
    • Small bowl for tossing cranberries
    • Wire rack for cooling
    • Small zip-top bag or spoon for drizzling chocolate (optional)

Ingredients and Substitutions

  • Eggs: 3 large eggs. No suitable substitution for the structure they provide.
  • Sugar: 2 cups. Can substitute with granulated erythritol for a lower-calorie option.
  • Unsalted Butter: 3/4 cup, slightly softened. Salted butter can be used; omit the additional salt from the recipe.
  • Vanilla Extract: 1 1/2 teaspoons. Almond extract can be used for a different flavor profile.
  • Salt: 1 teaspoon.
  • Full Fat Milk: 2 tablespoons. Any milk, including non-dairy options, can be used.
  • Flour: 2 cups, plus more for coating cranberries. For a gluten-free version, use a gluten-free all-purpose flour mix.
  • Cranberries: 2 1/2 cups (12 oz.), fresh or frozen. Frozen cranberries do not need to be thawed.
  • For the Frosting:
    • Butter: 1/2 cup, softened.
    • Cream Cheese: 8 ounces, softened.
    • Powdered Sugar: 3 cups, sifted. Adjust according to desired sweetness and consistency.
    • Vanilla Extract: 1 teaspoon.
  • Hand Dried Cranberries: For decoration.
  • White Chocolate Chips: 1/2 cup, for drizzling.

Steps

  1. Preheat and Prep: Begin by preheating your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease your 9-inch cake pan. In a small bowl, toss the cranberries with a handful of flour to ensure they are fully coated; this helps prevent them from sinking to the bottom of the cake.
  2. Mix Wet Ingredients: In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the eggs and sugar for 5-7 minutes until they are pale and form streaks. Then, add the butter and vanilla, mixing for another two minutes.
  3. Incorporate Dry Ingredients: Gradually beat in the milk and salt. Slowly add the flour until just combined, followed by the cranberries. Transfer the batter into your prepared pan.
  4. Bake: Bake for about 1 hour. If the cake starts to brown too much, cover lightly with foil. Let the cake cool on a wire rack before removing it from the pan.
  5. Prepare Frosting: Beat the softened cream cheese and butter until smooth. Gradually add powdered sugar and vanilla, adjusting to taste and desired consistency.
  6. Decorate: Once the cake is cool, spread the frosting evenly. Chill if desired. For the final touch, melt white chocolate chips and drizzle over the cake with dried cranberries sprinkled on top.

Top 4 Mistakes to Avoid

  • Overmixing the Batter: This can lead to a dense cake. Mix until just combined for a lighter texture.

Not Coating Cranberries in Flour: Skipping this step can cause the cranberries to sink to the bottom. A light flour coating ensures even distribution throughout the cake.

  • Opening the Oven Too Often: Resist the urge to check on the cake frequently. Opening the oven door can cause temperature fluctuations that affect the rise and texture of the cake.
  • Incorrect Frosting Consistency: If the frosting is too thin, it may run off the cake. Ensure it’s thick enough to spread smoothly and hold its shape.

FAQ

1. Can I make this cake in advance? Yes, the cake itself can be baked a day in advance. Wrap it tightly and store at room temperature. Frost the cake on the day of serving for best results.

2. Can frozen cranberries be used instead of fresh? Absolutely! There’s no need to thaw them; just use them directly from the freezer.

3. How do I store leftovers? Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. The frosting keeps the cake moist.

4. Is there a dairy-free version of this recipe? Yes, you can use plant-based butter and cream cheese for the frosting, and a non-dairy milk substitute in the cake.

5. Can I use a different type of fruit? While cranberries offer a unique tartness perfect for this holiday cake, you could experiment with blueberries or raspberries for a different flavor profile.

Conclusion

Creating this Cranberry Christmas Cake is more than just baking; it’s about bringing joy and warmth into your home during the holiday season. With its moist crumb, tart cranberries, and sweet, creamy frosting, this cake is bound to become a holiday tradition in your family. By following the detailed steps and tips provided, you’re well on your way to impressing your loved ones with a stunning and delicious dessert. Remember, baking is an act of love, so pour your heart into it, and the results will surely be rewarding. Happy baking, and may your holidays be filled with sweetness and cheer!

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